Announcing the Grand Prix Toronto Karaoke Party

Hey everybody! How have you been doing? I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been seen around the neighborhood, but I figured that this was a good a reason as any to get back on the pages of this wonderful website.

GP Toronto is around the corner now, and although it has been a long time since I have been to a GP, I can tell you that the thing I miss most is not necessarily the game play, but definitely hanging out with the people. I figured that there is no better way to do that than to throw a big old school ManaDeprived Karaoke Party. (The fact that this is the weekend immediately after my birthday has absolutely nothing to do with it… I promise! )

I have planned my share of parties in the past, and some of them were admittedly better than others. I can tell you with all confidence that this one will likely be the best yet. Across the street from the Venue in the always exciting Liberty Village area is an Irish pub called Brazen Head. Being an Irish pub, you can be guaranteed that the beer will be amazing, and the food should be good as well! It is there that the best ever ManaDeprived Party will be held. We have a private space reserved for us with a capacity of 100 people, and there will be lots of space to sit with friends, or enjoy cocktails with the rest of us! Face to Face Games Toronto has also offered to pick up some platters of appetizers for the early attendees, so make sure you show up on time!

I have booked the karaoke personally, and can tell you that having done karaoke for as long as I have, finding someone that has been hosting for that long was also very exciting. The selection will be great, and the sound will be spectacular.

The show starts at Saturday 9:30 p.m. and there will be a $10.00 admission charge. This will include a drink ticket however, so it’s really only a small upfront investment to be made towards an excellent night. Also, for those of you coming from out of town, the Canadian dollar is so bad, that it’s really only about $5.00 or something like that at home! The entire Eh Team will be there, and if any of you were around for Jay’s Bachelor blast at GP Calgary, then you know that Boosh really brings the party. If you were around for the GP Montreal party with Spruke and Jeremey, then you know that Jeremey can definitely hold his own at the shot table. If you think Matt is an entertaining debater on the show, then I dare you to try to get him going when he’s less sober, KYT is basically impossible to drink under the table, and well… it’s kind of my birthday, so… bring it!

I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone that got back to me last week with your projected interest. Because of you we were able to get a larger venue to improve the party’s promised experience. I can tell you that it is very likely that we will hit capacity pretty quickly. In the interest of preventing that issue, then we have opened a presale on party admission. If you would like to make sure you attend, then please simply send $10.00 via PayPal to toronto@facetofacegames.com for each ticket that you would like, along with your name. This will put you on the guest list and guarantee your spot in the festivities. This pre-sale will close on Thursday night at 11:59 p.m. EST. If you miss out, or have friends that decide they want to go, then I will also be on site on Saturday and some of Friday wearing my ManaDeprived hoodie selling tickets to the event. Come see me and get on the list. This one will be insane. If you heard the stories about previous parties, (Gangnam Style, Bonfire, table dancing, messy bathrooms, rivers of beer) then I can assure you, this one will be added to the roster of legend. The only thing you need to ask yourself is: “Why haven’t I pre-registered yet??”

See you in a week!!!

Thunderbreaking RG Aggro

The prerelease showed me how powerful Thunderbreak Regent could be, and I knew that in the new standard that I would be playing a full set of them beside my old faithful, [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]. I had been reading all of the articles all week on the regular strategy sites, and one in particular caught my eye. Matt Costa has been a long time contributor to premium strategy sites, and is well known for his love of control and tempo decks. If Islands are good in a format, you best bet that Matt will be playing them.

Matt’s last article before the Invitational suggested that an RG Aggro deck might just be the best place to be in the opening of this format. His list featured the full 8 dragons which I was hoping to play and presented a list which I found instantly attractive. I read similar articles from Ross Merriam indicating a similar leaning, so when the opportunity to play in a week one Standard tournament came up, I reached out to Matt immediately. He was quite happy with the list, and was especially high on the new Surrak. He cited that even in games where he lives up poorly vs. the board that his ability to grant haste allows you to steal back the play from a draw scenario, and is a big threat on his own.

I took his list to the MTGO beta client for some games, and was instantly impressed with the deck overall, while finding myself similarly unimpressed with Surrak specifically. Too often I found that the haste didn’t matter when the top end of the curve is [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card], which has haste anyway. Mono red and the token builds too often had a ton of chump blockers, and although he is beefy, he still trades with a Rhino or a single (insert premium removal spell name here). I wanted more from the slot. I wanted more durability and more evasion. I found both in [card]Ashcloud Phoenix[/card]. Seth Manfield was playing a similar RG deck at the Invitational, but his was much more heavily focused on Dragons and the Care about Dragons mechanic. He played a couple of copies of Phoenix in his list, and it looked very impressive on camera. I slotted in some of the fire birds, and was very pleased with the result. I did some tinkering with the numbers and removal spells, and finally settled on this for my Standard Event.

RG Aggro

This deck was firing on all cylinders before the event, and vs the 7-1 decks at the Invitational, it posted an easy 80% win rate. Regent was completely unbelievable, as I expected, and when joined by Draconic Roar the incidental damage that the opponent receives over the course of the game really adds up. In fact, there were a number of games where I had dealt 9 damage to my opponent, and never ever attacked them. The natural progression of Thunderbreak Regent into [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] is strong enough, but when it starts on turn 3 on the play, it’s really hard to lose. I was very happy to be playing [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] finally also in a deck with [card]Elvish Mystic[/card], as many of my game ones were heavily influenced by an unanswered turn 2 Rabblemaster. Once the deck gets to its mana and starts dropping dragons in sequence, it’s tough to lose as is, but when you’ve drained all the removal from your opponent’s hand with your early threats like Rabblemaster and [card]Boon Satyr[/card] that win rate gets even more exaggerated. As good as Rabblemaster was for me in every game one, he is very often the first card I look to cut in the post board games.

The sideboard is designed in such a way that you can really choose the tempo at which you want to play the post board games. If you are looking to beat mono read then all you have to do is sideboard out the less impressive threats like Rabblemaster and Boon Satyr for [card]Hornet Nest[/card] and more removal. This will buy you enough time to take over the game with your larger undercosted threats. If the games are going to be more drawn out or grindy, then again out with the Rabblemaster and 2 [card]Boon Satyr[/card] for the copies of [card]Xenagos, the Reveler[/card] and the Dragonlord herself, Atarka. I also would optimize removal whenever possible, by bringing in Roast against Abzan and [card]Arc Lightning[/card] vs token based strategies. I have been very impressed with Atarka in the board, as I have wanted an answer to [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]. We have few ways to interact with planeswalkers outside of the combat step, and Elspeth can quickly reset your board and then stay making a stream of tokens which can quickly overwhelm if left unchecked. Atarka’s ability to deal damage to planeswalkers directly is huge, and can even be used to split between them. This makes it a neat and tidy answer which also demands is own answer immediately from your opponent, or risk becoming the next meal. She also comes in only WITH the Xenagos, as The Reveler does a great job of making the mana necessary to cast her.

After more extensive testing I have found myself very unhappy with [card]Heir of the Wilds[/card]. Overall I feel like we can do better in that two drop slot. The games which we lose are often as a result of inconsistent mana production often created by early destruction of our men and producing creatures. The next change that I plan to make is the addition of [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card]. Ensuring a steady stream of lands along with the selection afforded by the addition of fetch lands and temples should serve to improve the consistency. The life gain is something I’m incidentally interested in, and the 4 toughness is a welcome addition. Roast was excellent against Abzan and the other midrange green decks, but really felt lack luster against the tokens and red decks. I definitely want access to 3 Roast in my 75, but I think that for now, [card]Wild Slash[/card] is more important to our short term survival. One further addition that I’m making is a single copy of Atarka’s Command. After watching Seth Manfield play it at the SCG Invitational, and playing some test games with it, it has really demonstrated its value. I do not think that more than 1 is necessary, but every time I draw the spell, it over performs.

I’ve been working on the deck with Toronto local and new streamer, Matt Mealing. The concerns that I have immediately are rooted in the matchups that go bigger than we do. Chief among those is GW Devotion. It seems that no matter how many times I play against it, and no matter how many Dragons I have to attack them with, the opponent can still outpace my damage output. I’m 70% sure that I can address that with some better boarding, so it’s a work in progress. The sideboard actually is still in flux, and I’m trying out some different cards to perform similar duties with the goal of determining which ones have the best application across different matches. [card]Barrage of Boulders[/card] for example, can be very effective at sweeping up tokens from Red decks, and to some degree, Jeskai decks, but is also very effective at breaking board stalls in midrange matches and killing our opponents out of nowhere. The card I’m most excited about trying out is [card]Harness by Force[/card]. There are bound to be a swath of Dragons circling standard for the next little while, so why not just bend them all to your bidding and kill your opponent with them!

I hope that you have enjoyed this look into my RG adventures. I will be working on this deck, and others like it as we look ahead to Grand Prix Toronto at the end of the month which is a Standard event. Don’t forget to check out the Dragons of Tarkir MTGO Preview stream this Thursday at 4pm EST as I battle a bunch of other amazing people in a special invite only event!

Twitch.tv/mrscottymac

Breaking a New Standard

With Dragons of Tarkir right around the corner, everyone is pouring over the spoilers and trying to figure out what the next big thing in Standard is going to be. I’ve been on a Modern focus as of late, so I feel like I’m viewing the potential Standard with a fresh set of eyes. I have been devouring content left, right and center over the last two weeks, and the number of brews that are coming around are amazing. The current metagame is being dominated by the GW Devotion menace, as its resilience and sheer power cannot be disputed. I feel like there are some very important card coming down the pipe for us however, that will radically alter the shape of the meta even on day 1 of DTK’s legality.

Roast

I feel like the most impact will be felt by the introduction of Roast. Roast is an extremely powerful card with a significantly lower converted mana cost than expected. Traditionally, Red aggressive strategies are the frontrunners in a new metagame, but they inevitably get stonewalled by the midrange decks. The potential for this is exacerbated by the presence of [card]Siege Rhino[/card] in Abzan, which not only gains life when it enters the battlefield, but Rhinos are notoriously stubborn and often are not easily removed from the battlefield by red removal. Polukranos and [card]Whisperwood Elemental[/card] in the devotion strategies also present similar roadblocks. Perhaps the biggest offender of them all is [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card], who not only comes down early enough to start blocking effectively, but the velocity gained through consistent land drops and incidental life gain make this hardy centaur a real pain in the haunches.

One thing that ties them all together though (in addition to the fact that they are all green creatures) is that they all die to Roast. For 2 mana, any of the traditionally powerful roadblocks for an aggressive red strategy are reduced to burnt ash. One of the other amazing considerations of this card is that until now, there has not been an efficient red removal spell which successfully deals with the above threats and still be good enough to deal with cards like [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card], [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card], and [card]Seeker of the Way[/card]. Heck, this card deals with all of them PLUS [card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/card]. It is 100% fair to say that the presence of this card will have a huge impact on deck building and the metagame at large. If you are not ready for this card, then please, get prepared.

Sarkhan-Unbroken-Planeswalker-Dragons-of-Tarkir-Spoiler

The other card I’ve been playing around with lately is the new Sarkhan Unbroken. Upon release, I feel like this card was severely underrated. He was released in the wake of Narset Transcendent, and at first glance, it seemed as though he did not measure up in comparison. It was after notable Pros such as Owen Turtenwald and Brian Kibler wrote some articles about the card that I personally really stood up and took notice. I respect Brian as an excellent midrange deck designer, so I expected as much out of him, but when Owen, more often known to play the best cards in a format than what he “likes” to play was similarly high on it, I got right on board the train. I took a look at both of their articles on their respective websites and started to play with and tune both of the preliminary lists.

Owen took the deck into a more controlling route, opting for more copies of countermagic and planeswalkers in the list, and including copies of Anticipate to ensure that the proper threats are found for the appropriate time. Brian opted for a more traditionally midrange approach, relying on tough resilient threats at undercosted casting costs along an aggressive curve. There were a lot of cards that overlapped in the decks (most notably 4 copies of Roast in each one), and after playing with both lists I came to the same conclusion as they had; Sarkhan is definitely not UNbroken. He is one of the most versatile and powerful cards that exist in the Temur color set today, and potentially one of the best reasons to play those colors in the future. We all remember this card, right?

Broodamte Dragon

What if you got that card for 1 less mana, and tacked on some free activations of this card:

Chromatic Sphere

Are you interested? I know that to many this seems like an episode of Evan Erwin’s AdventuresiIn Magical Christmasland, but let’s stop and understand something about the metagame; [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] is on the decline in the overall metagame. Look at the top 8 in GP Miami: 2x GW Devotion, 1x Abzan Reanimator, 2x Abzan Aggro, 2x Mono Red Aggro, and 1x Naya Aggro. There were an average of 3 copies each in all of the Abzan lists, but the rest of them had ZERO. Going out to the top 16 showed only 2 more decks containing the card, despite it being a 4 of in those lists. The reality is that, Planeswalkers are living much longer than expected, especially if you are presenting a high volume of threat density around them. Consider this: Xenagos, The Reveler is traditionally one of the most fragile Planeswalkers and he is sticking around long enough to do work. He makes ground based 2/2s! Sarkhan makes 4/4 flying Dragons man!! Get with the program!

I think that the second point about having a reasonable mass of creatures around your planeswalkers is what drove me closer to Brian’s list as my preferred jumping off point. Here is my latest list:

DTK Temur – MrScottyMac

[deck]
[Lands]
4 Forest
4 Frontier Bivouac
2 Island
2 Mountain
2 Shivan Reef
2 Temple of Abandon
2 Temple of Mystery
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Yavimaya Coast
[/Lands]
[Spells]
1 Crater’s Claws
4 Roast
3 Sarkhan Unbroken
2 Stubborn Denial
2 Wild Slash
3 Xenagos, the Reveler
[/Spells]
[Creatures]
4 Courser of Kruphix
2 Dragonlord Atarka
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Savage Knuckleblade
1 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Thunderbreak Regent
[/Creatures]
[Sideboard]
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Negate
2 Reclamation Sage
2 Plummet
1 Stormbreath Dragon
2 Dig Through Time
4 Anger of the Gods
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

After realizing that Roast was everywhere, I determined quickly that Polukranos is just not good enough to see play outside of Devotion in the new Standard. Seeing as how I was playing multiple copies of Dragons anyway, I quickly upgraded the green hydra to a resilient and synergistic threat; Thunderbreak Regent.

Thunderbreak-Regent-Dragons-of-Tarkir-Spoiler

The Regent works with all of the other Dragons in the list, and can come down a turn early to present a resilient flying threat that will guarantee at least a Bolt to the opponent if it eats a spot removal spell. Note that this also works on abilities and sends the damage to the player, making this also a great card vs opposing planeswalkers. I’m still doing more testing with this, and it’s entirely possible that I head deeper on these, but for now, 2 is fine. I was considering the use of [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] over Rattleclaw, in order to enable the potential for a turn 2 [card]Savage Knuckleblade[/card], but a turn 3 one with haste seems like it has been fine, and I’m not killing myself with my own lads like I was traditionally with more aggressive Temur decks.

The reason to play this Regent over [card]Ashcloud Phoenix[/card] aside from some of the innate synergies, is the presence of [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] in the sideboard. Anger does a great job of cleaning up the mess that [card]Mastery of the Unseen[/card] can make, and also can be used to great effect to impede the mana production of Devotion, forcing them to play a fairer game. Jeskai Aggro can also prove to be somewhat of an issue with multiple copies of [card]Mantis Rider[/card], but Anger cleans them and the Rabblemasters both with no issue, leaving the Regent to continue to control the skies… Until Atarka shows up to rule the world. Ramping into Dragonlord Atarka is an amazing thing. It feels almost the same as ramping up to an Ugin, but you’re left with an absurd 8/8 flier with trample to kill your opponent with instead of a slow stream of [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s. The chance to turn 4 her is yet another reason that the Mystic debate of Elvish vs Rattleclaw continues to rage on.

The sideboard contains a bunch of cards which I expect to be good in the upcoming field. Counterspell access is one of the benefits of playing Temur over straight GR, and a healthy mix allows you to keep the opponents guessing. One of the most important cards in the board is [card]Plummet[/card]. With all of the Dragons running around, we will want a replacement for Roast in those matches. If the metagame shifts, I could see it become correct to increase this number to 3. [card]Dig Through Time[/card] is a powerful spell in its own right, but when all of our cards are game ending bombs, it becomes even more powerful. Access to this effect vs Control or grinding Abzan decks is important.

I encourage you to try the deck out and tell me what you think. I have also been playing with Shaheen Soorani’s Esper deck for the new Standard, and I can tell you that [card]Ultimate Price[/card] has far more targets today than one might think. A lot of the things which I said to be true about Roast apply to [card]Ultimate Price[/card] as well, so make sure that you aren’t sleeping on that one either. Perhaps I’ll write about that one later….

I’ll be at the Face to Face Games Toronto Prerelease event all day Saturday, so make sure you come on out and support! Come at 9am for Pancakes!!

See you guys on stream!!
twitch.tv/mrscottymac

SCG Baltimore – Reap What You Sower

Leading into the event, we were watching the results of GP Vancouver very closely, as it was the next major Modern event after the PT. Abzan was still one of the top decks, with Burn and Infect asserting their fair places in the metagame. The biggest change however, was the major surge in Twin based strategies with Tron basically disappearing from the field due to how poorly it was positioned against Burn, Infect and Twin.

We were ecstatic going into this tournament, given our expected matchups against a field of this makeup, but the increased presence of Burn from the PT meta meant that a 4 color build was likely not going to be viable. Dropping the black meant dropping [card]Lingering Souls[/card] as a sideboard option, so if we were going to back to a 3 color mana base, we needed an Abzan trump card.

Thankfully, Shaun McLaren did that work for us, and was playing [card]Sower of Temptation[/card] at the PT in his UWR list. A follow up video from him showed the real power of the card against Abzan, and it was even seeing play in some UR Twin lists in Vancouver for the Grand Prix. The real power that Sower had for our deck in particular, is that it allowed us to relieve some of the stress on our removal suite. Sower stealing a Rhino or a Tasigur allows us to basically need two less removal spells, as the creature it steals likely also will be able to hold off another if necessary. Sower is uniquely positioned against Abzan in particular, as it has built in Liliana protection and is difficult for them to remove given the current configuration of their removal spells. With [card]Lingering Souls[/card] coming out of the board, and less of a need for [card]Valorous Stance[/card] as a function of the Sower addition, we had some sideboard spaces to play with. Burn can be a tough match sometimes if we don’t find enough removal or copies of [card]Lightning Helix[/card] to help stem the bleeding. MTGO has been full of Burn for some time, and after adding [card]Kor Firewalker[/card] to the board, I’ve not lost a single match to them in which I resolved one. Given the expectations of the field, adding some of these was a sure thing.

Here is the list that we all registered:

#TeamGeist – SCG Baltimore Open

[deck]
[Lands]
2 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Eiganjo Castle
3 Flooded Strand
2 Ghost Quarter
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Moorland Haunt
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
[/Lands]
[Spells]
1 Batterskull
2 Electrolyze
1 Forked Bolt
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
4 Remand
[/Spells]
[Creatures]
4 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Vendilion Clique
[/Creatures]
[Sideboard]
1 Celestial Purge
2 Counterflux
2 Engineered Explosives
3 Kor Firewalker
1 Negate
2 Sower of Temptation
2 Valorous Stance
2 Wear // Tear
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The last change is our swap of the [card]Valorous Stance[/card] in the main deck to a [card]Forked Bolt[/card]. Testing leading into the event made me want another early removal spell, and we tested out [card]Burst Lightning[/card], [card]Harvest Pyre[/card], even a third [card]Electrolyze[/card] was on the table, but ultimately another 3 casting cost spell was not what we were in the market for. With Infect, Affinity and [card]Lingering Souls[/card] being regular format staples, [card]Forked Bolt[/card] got the nod. I believe it turned out to be the best possible choice, and earned great value off of it in a number of matchups throughout the day. Often trading one mana for two cards in a number of matchups was great, but even against [card]Lingering Souls[/card], a one mana and card exchange for the 3 mana investment and half card from the Souls side was good. Being one mana generally allowed us to double spell more often, helping to jump ahead on tempo.

Instead of your traditional report structure, here is the summary of the event

R1 – Affinity – W 2-1 – [card]Forked Bolt[/card] was insane for me on the turn 1 play in game 2. [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] also earned a turn 2 4 for 1 in game 3.

R2 – Abzan – W 2-0 – Game plan executed as expected. I saw no Liliana from opponent in game 1, and minimal amounts of discard. The plan we are looking to execute in this match is very good when unfettered by these things. I knew my opponent was thin on action when he was using [card]Lingering Souls[/card] to start chumping instead of trying to race me.

R3 – Esper Gifts – L 2-1 – Game one was a real close one, and I could have pulled it out with a top deck Bolt or Snap, no avail. Game 2, Geist went all the way, and G3 was 5 total spells in 9 turns.

R4 – Abzan – L 2-1 – Game one I see only one Liliana, and I have multiple Clique/Angel interactions to keep his action down. Game 2 I get turn 2 Liliana on the play from a [card]Noble Hierarch[/card], and I can’t keep up. Game 3 is really close, and goes long. I end up 3 points short again.

R5 – Polymorph/Breach – W 2-0 – I have infinite removal spells and counterspells. That’s that.

R6 – Abzan – L 2-0 – There are draws which are almost unbeatable from Abzan. Most notably, IOK, Goyf, Liliana, Tasigur/Ooze in that order. Game 2 I have to double mulligan on the play and get absolutely wrecked again.

R7 – Abzan – W 2-0 – G1 I draw a lot of Paths, Snaps and Angels while the opponent draws more guys to give me targets for said Paths. Bolt into Snap Bolt closes. G2 I execute our Abzan Game plan perfectly as I survive back to back [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] with [card]Valorous Stance[/card], Angel, and [card]Sower of Temptation[/card]. I’m able to play to a clear board, then opponent casts Rhino, I steal with Sower, and then end up Blinking said Rhino with my [card]Restoration Angel[/card].

R8 – UR Twin – L 2-1 – G1 I resolve Geist on the play on turn 3. Opponent resolves [card]Blood Moon[/card] in response. I thankfully had an island on the table and two remands to prevent blockers, along with an [card]Electrolyze[/card] to finish. G2 I get super aggressive with a Wear // Tear on a Blood Moon/Spellskite, and get punished when the opponent untaps and combos me. G3 I am without red mana for too long, and get killed by a sea of unkillable creatures.

I know for a fact that I was not playing to the best of my ability this weekend. I felt underprepared, both mentally, but also physically. Normally, I come equipped with a ton of quality healthy snacks to keep me going through the tournament, along with a good amount of water. Unfortunately, I was ill equipped, and found myself hitting walls through the day, feeling fatigue and hunger at a number of points. Make sure that you come prepared for these things and equip yourself accordingly. Also, a good night’s sleep should not be undervalued. It’s great to see all of your friends at these events, but if you want to do well, go to bed.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the tournament, and on the list in particular, and I’m very happy with it almost exactly as is. Our plan against Abzan is amazing right now, Burn is now very simple with Firewalkers, Sower has proven its value in a bunch more matches than just Abzan, and Twin should just be a good match for us. If I were to try out one change, it would be to change a [card]Kor Firewalker[/card] in the board for a single [card]Spellskite[/card]. This would also be fine vs Burn, but would improve the Affinity, Infect, and Twin matchups. None of these are bad matches per se, but a little more help couldn’t hurt. I ended up mulliganing a lot I think, and most of the games which I kept 7 cards in I won, especially if on the play. This deck is extremely powerful and sorely underrepresented right now. That said, it is definitely a metagame deck in that you will do very well against established archetypes, and likely struggle against more fringe decks. Jason Clark (@RealEvilGenius) played the list, and after losing round 1, found himself playing against a bunch of strange decks like Dredge, White/Red [card]Blood Moon[/card], and a bunch of others. Suffice it to say, his day ended before mine did. If you are going to play this deck at a major tournament, I encourage you to find a way to get some byes. You will find your matchups to be decisively better.

Huge thanks to my wonderful #TeamGeist partners, Larry Swasey, Jason Clark, Andrew Huska, and Nathan Quintanilla. Without them I know for certain that the deck would not be as good as it is right now, and I know that I wouldn’t be either.

See you all on stream!!
twitch.tv/mrscottymac
@MrScottyMac

25 Hours Later…

It started as a joke.

Someone was in my stream and I was talking about trying to get to Vegas for the GP.

“I’ll give you 400.00 if you make this a 24 hour stream, starting right now. You have 15 seconds to decide.”

I stopped immediately. I took a quick inventory of the things I had to do the next day, and had to unfortunately decline. I then thought about how much preparation I would have to do to accomplish something like that; clear the schedule, get the wife to agree to it, sleep a lot before hand, and ultimately plan out the stream details. I kind of just put it out of reach for me. The next morning over coffee, I brought it up to my lovely wife, and she was shockingly on board. I took that and ran with it, putting together all of the necessary details to fire off what I wanted to be one of the best full day streams in MTG history. I told my stream about it on the Thursday night before, and they all agreed that I should run a 25 hour stream on the Sunday of Valentine’s Day weekend. One more hour than the norm, and another way to set it apart. I poured over the daily event schedule, and determined that I could pretty easily play in Standard and Modern Dailies for almost all of the stream, with two windows which I would have to fill with some limited play.

Modern was covered. I knew what I would be playing for those events. If you have been following my content for any amount of time in the last year and a half, it should come as no surprise that TeamGeist would be riding high for these events. SCG Baltimore is this coming weekend, so I was looking forward to the testing. Here was the deck I had for reference:

#TEAMGEIST by Team Geist

[deck]
[Lands]
2 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Flooded Strand
2 Ghost Quarter
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Watery Grave
[/Lands]
[Spells]
1 Batterskull
2 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
4 Remand
1 Valorous Stance
[/Spells]
[Creatures]
4 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Vendilion Clique
[/Creatures]
[Sideboard]
1 Celestial Purge
2 Counterflux
2 Engineered Explosives
3 Lingering Souls
1 Negate
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
3 Valorous Stance
2 Wear // Tear
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

For a full breakdown of the deck and how to play it, check out my last article.

Modern as a format has been changing a lot since the Pro Tour. Burn is everywhere on MTGO right now, and you need to be prepared for it. Making your way to the top of the daily events also would demand that you face at least one player wielding the mighty Abzan Midrange deck, but it’s very possible that you play 2 to 3 Burn opponents on the way to the top also. I played against Burn in easily 50% of all of my Modern matches throughout the stream, and was very frustrated by it towards the end of the night. So much so in fact, that I have actually started to test out some copies of Kor Firewalker in the sideboard. My matches against Burn are undefeated since adding these happy little people to the 75, so if I expect Baltimore to be similar to the MTGO meta, then you can be sure I’ll have them with me.

Standard on the other hand, was a bit of a mystery for me. I needed to find a deck that I would be able to be successful with, and enjoy playing for multiple hours over the evening. In-game decisions being made simpler would be very attractive also. The last time I played Standard was with the 4 Color Delve list, but I think that the meta has shifted a bit too aggressively for the deck to be optimal in its current configuration. This point was clearly showcased during my stream with KYT posted here below in case you were interested in the deck.

I was pouring through coverage of the GP and the SCG events which were happening that weekend, and narrowed it down to a couple of lists; Chromanti-Flayer, Jeskai Tokens, and an outside third options was GR Devotion, as Devotion in general was doing very well at both tournaments that weekend. I asked Canadian turned Floridian John Cuvelier about the Chromanti-Flayer list, as Frank Lepore touted him as the source for the list. Frank had been finding great success online with the deck, which was appealing, but also had appeal as a build your own Akroma for 2 mana on turn 3 type deck. John had some nice things to say about the deck, but when I asked him about the GR Devotion deck which I knew was very popular in the Florida PTQ scene specifically, I knew that I should be playing it. He shipped me a deck list which he had been testing which was very close to the one which Tannon Grace did well with at the SCG that Robert Berni ended up winning.

Here is the list:

GR FLORIDA DEVOTION By John Cuvelier

[deck]
[Lands]
7 Forest
1 Mana Confluence
1 Mountain
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
2 Rugged Highlands
4 Temple of Abandon
1 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
[/Lands]
[Spells]
2 Crater’s Claws
3 Xenagos, the Reveler
[/Spells]
[Creatures]
2 Arbor Colossus
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Elvish Mystic
3 Genesis Hydra
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
3 Shaman of the Great Hunt
3 Voyaging Satyr
4 Whisperwood Elemental
[/Creatures]
[Sideboard]
2 Arc Lightning
2 Briber’s Purse
2 Hunt the Hunter
2 Nissa, Worldwaker
2 Nylea’s Disciple
2 Outpost Siege
1 Setessan Tactics
2 Wild Slash
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

I put up a significant winning percentage with this deck, making 3-1 or better in every event I played it in. The deck was very powerful when the draws came together, and with the nice mix of accelerants and threats, that happened pretty regularly. I have always enjoyed playing decks in which Xenagos, The Reveler is a good card, and with most people that weekend leaving their Mantis Riders at home, it was sure to be a good weekend for this list. The true power behind this deck however is unequivocally the addition of Whisperwood Elemental. The traditional weakness of the Devotion strategies is the presence of board sweepers like End Hostilities and the recently printed Crux of Fate. Devotion only works with a lot of creatures on the table, and Whisperwood Elemental protects your board state from those effects nicely. There is another innate issue with Devotion strategies, and that is traditionally an inability to draw cards or to reload after running out of gas. Thankfully, this list has a few tools to fight against that too. Whisperwood manifests a card off the top of your deck every turn, adding to your board state. With fetchlands and Courser of Kruphix, you can often use this ability to clear useless lands into 2/2 beaters/blockers, or also upgrade late game mana accelerants into reasonable threats. Shaman Of The Great Hunt also gives your wide board of threats some good ways to become more powerful, as well as provides you a way to use the massive amounts of mana which the list can generate to draw an impressive amount of cards at instant speed.

I would definitely suggest this deck to anyone playing in a Standard tournament, and I will definitely have this updated list with me in case I need it on Sunday in Baltimore. Come on out and say hi if you are in the area! I would love to meet all of you and say thanks for your support for the stream. Here is the link to my Twitch profile, and I have made highlights of all of the 25 hour stream. Some of it is muted since the music in the background causes that.

A HUGE thank you to all of you that helped out with and supported the 25 hour stream. I could not have done this without all of you. Special thanks to all of my guests online, and of course to Tyler and Jacky who stopped by to make sure I kept awake. I had a TON of fun during the stream, even if the flood afterwards was terrible. I would definitely do it again!! (with the wife’s permission of course…)

See you all soon!
@MrScottyMac
twitch.tv/mrscottymac